SciFi Japan


    A Conversation with Documentary Writer/Producers Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski Author: John “Dutch” DeSentis Special Thanks to Bill Gudmundson and Matthew Buzzell


    Tuesday, September 9th saw the release of Classic Media’s final two movies in their Toho Master Collection DVD series: RODAN and WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, which if you don’t have by now then you might want to get on that. For those that do have it, you have no doubt seen the extra treat that is included with the movies; BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE: The Art of Japanese Special Effects. Shot in Japan in 2007, the documentary is a very enlightening film for those unfamiliar with just how tricky the craft of Japanese special effects is. It was directed by longtime Godzilla set journalist Norman England and features interviews with many of the most recognizable names in Toho history including Akira Takarada, Hiroshi Koizumi, Yoshio Tsuchiya, and the men who played Godzilla. You may ask yourself what it took to put something this big together. Indeed, BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE wasn’t just a simple “cut and paste” series overview but rather something unique from the start right up to the special effects demonstration that concludes the documentary. Well look no further as SciFi Japan presents the first of two interviews with the people involved in making it all come together. We begin with an exclusive conversation with Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski (both longtime contributors to SciFi Japan), who shared writing and production duties and explain just what it takes to bring Godzilla down to size.

    Q: Let`s start with the obvious. How did this all come about? STEVE RYFLE: Ed and I have been friends since the first G-Fest, or whatever it was called back then, in Chicago in 1994. In the past few years we’ve been fortunate enough to work on a number of Godzilla DVD projects, first for the British Film Institute and then for Classic Media. But even before that, we’d discussed ideas for various projects we’d like to do, and one of them was a documentary film. Of course, it was only a pipe dream back then. Then in late 2006, Classic Media asked us to suggest ideas for special features to be included in a Godzilla DVD box set, and we immediately thought about pitching a documentary. We didn’t know if they would go for it, because it was so much more ambitious than any of the special features that were produced for the DVDs up to that point. ED GODZISZEWSKI: Looking back on all of our correspondence with Classic Media, I found that the first time the subject was brought up was in early September of 2006. During a phone call with Lisa Bull at Classic Media, she asked about some `value added` ideas for a box set of their Toho DVDs, which they were thinking of doing sometime in 2007. So we threw out a whole bunch of different ideas, including use of some of the documentaries on Toho`s Region 2 discs, a series of original interviews we would do in Japan, and an original documentary. We figured they might bite on a couple of our ideas out of the whole laundry list. Although we were told that Toho would not allow their R2 documentaries and commentaries to be used, we were pleasantly surprised that Classic Media expressed interest in an original documentary. Steve and I had talked about that in very vague terms for months while we had worked on the commentaries and previous extras, but I don`t know that we ever expected that they would invest in something like this. Having the chance to work together again on a project of this type was something that was really exciting to us.

    As far as coming up with the subject for the film, one of the things on which we both agreed early on was that we try to do something that no one had done before. There have been plenty of documentaries and short features either about the history of Godzilla, exploring his character, or the making of a specific film. We didn`t want to do something that would be `just another Godzilla documentary.` While flying to Japan in 2006, I was writing an essay in which I tried to explain why Japanese SF/fantasy films held such a special attraction for me. I saw all sorts of films as a kid, and somehow the ones which I consistently gravitated to much more than any others were the Japanese films. And as I grew older, that affinity didn`t change much at all. As a kid, I never thought for a moment about how films were made. In fact, watching a film as a kid I tended to just accept what was going on as if it was really happening. So it had to be something else. And it came to me that one of many factors that attracted me to these films over others was miniature special effects. They create a unique kind of alternate reality, and once I got older and became aware of how films were made, an appreciation of this technique just added to the allure of these films for me.

    I`ll never forget something which director Shusuke Kaneko said during his visit to Chicago in 2003: "Miniatures sing to my heart." I couldn`t have said it better myself. And while others have used many different techniques which have drastically evolved over time, in large part the Japanese have stuck with miniature special effects. Why miniatures, what makes Japanese miniature effects so attractive? It seemed like there was a story there waiting to be told. STEVE: As Ed says, neither of us was interested in doing a generic genre overview, a "history of Godzilla” documentary, where you string a lot of movie clips together and talk about each film. That`s been done before—a fine example is GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS, a documentary produced by BBC-TV in 1998, which unfortunately has never been released in the U.S. Not only had that been done before, but there were also other reasons why it would be difficult if not impossible for us to do a history of the entire Godzilla series. It was clear at the outset that we would have access to footage from the titles licensed by Classic Media, but it was not known if we would be able to get footage from any titles post-TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (ultimately, for a variety of reasons, mostly financial, we did not). So we had to take these kinds of limitations into consideration.

    We aspired to make something of similar quality to the BBC docu, which was shot on location in Japan and interviewed many people involved with the genre. We came up with our "take" on the material fairly quickly. Ed and I have always shared a fascination with Eiji Tsuburaya`s intricate miniature work and monster suits, and how this combination of techniques—neither of which was invented by Tsuburaya, of course—were nonetheless an innovation and two of the defining elements of Japanese science fiction and fantasy film. Our interest in this aspect of the movies was only deepened in 2004, when the American Cinematheque brought over two surviving key members of Tsuburaya`s effects crew for its 50th anniversary Godzilla film festival in Hollywood. That`s where we first met SFX art director Yasuyuki Inoue and his assistant, Akinori Takagi. (Their visit to the U.S. was coordinated by our friend Oki Miyano, who also wrote a great piece on Mr. Inoue and the Toho SFX art department in Japanese Giants at the time.) For me, listening to their stories of making these films was revelatory—not just in terms of how they did this or that effect, but why they did it that way, and the problems they encountered, and most of all the dedication and passion they share for their art, their craft, and how much they want to preserve it. Also, during the week of that film festival, a group of us went on a "field trip" to a military aircraft museum with Mr. Inoue. During that trip, I learned a bit more about Mr. Inoue`s experience during World War II, particularly the way he was injured. He was standing on the deck of a ship that was strafed by an American warplane, and that`s how he lost his left foot. At the aircraft museum, Mr. Inoue came "face to face" with the exact type of aircraft that had shot him. It was a moving little moment, and it was this "human side" of Japanese special effects, the story of the people behind the camera, that I hoped we could illuminate a little bit in our movie. By the way, my friend Matthew Buzzell, a documentary filmmaker, shot the field trip to the air museum as well a lot of Mr. Inoue`s activities during the Los Angeles film fest in 2004. Matthew had his own idea for a Godzilla-related documentary and I hope he is able to complete it one day because I know he`ll reveal even more of this story.

    ED: I later had the good fortune to visit Mr. Inoue several times in Japan, listening to him and his former assistants tell many stories about how they made films at Toho. It was quite an education, and from the start it was obvious that these men had poured their heart and souls into making special effects but their role was virtually unknown, even in their home country. Their story needed to be told, and a documentary film offered us that chance. But at the same time, to concentrate only on these craftsmen would have narrowed the scope of the film so much that it probably would have had a very limited appeal. An overview of Japanese miniature effects would provide the perfect framework in which their story could play a major role. At first we were thinking a little more about explaining many of the techniques used to create various scenes, but when Norman England and I went to explain the film`s concept to Mr. Inoue in February 2007, my thinking changed a bit. Mr. Inoue and his assistants talked with such passion about their work that day that I sensed we could get something special by focusing more on their passion than just how they did this or that. STEVE: So, the basic idea was to tell the story of the genre (as opposed to the history of Godzilla), focusing on the miniature work and the monster suits and suit acting, and also acknowledging the uncertainty of the future for these films and the people who create them—will analog SFX survive in the digital age? We wrote an outline in the fall of 2006 and it`s quite similar to the finished film in many ways. Based on that outline and a bunch of other information we submitted, Classic Media eventually greenlit the project.

    Q: Was it difficult to get Classic Media, a relatively small company (in comparison to one like Sony), to finance the whole thing? ED: What really helped us was that Lisa Bull, our main contact at Classic Media, bought into the idea of the project and was its advocate with Classic Media`s management. Immediately after she expressed interest in the project, she asked how much it would cost. This was the first dose of reality for us in making a film. It`s one thing to have an idea, it`s quite another to figure out all the details of what needs to be done. I had confidence that I could accurately estimate things like travel cost, but we had no experience in mounting a film production, much less doing it in Japan. From the first moment that we entertained the idea of a documentary film, it seemed like the perfect person to help us out would be Norman England. He has had lots of experience visiting the sets of film productions in Japan, had extensive contacts in the film industry, and he had recently completed a feature film of his own in Japan. His film, THE iDol, was a very entertaining piece which he wrote, directed, and produced, and it was done completely in Japanese. He amassed a great pool of talent to help him on THE iDol, and he made it for a very modest sum. We thought he would be ideal to direct this film, and he knew what it would take to get it done. Fortunately, Norman was enthusiastic about signing on and he came up with a list of who/what we would need and roughly what it would cost for a 5-day shoot in Japan.

    Of course you can`t make this kind of film just as a bunch of talking heads. For a visual subject like we were thinking about, you need to be able to present lots of photos and footage as well. This area was something that Classic Media had to negotiate with Toho—when we started, we did not know what they would charge, so we only put in a lump sum and prayed it would buy us enough images to use. Prior to even getting the green light on the film, I built up a large inventory of image candidates from which we could choose once we found out what our budget would buy. STEVE: Obviously we`ve never made a film for Sony, so I can`t say whether it`s more or less difficult to get financing from a bigger company. At the time we originally pitched this project to Classic Media, their GOJIRA/GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS DVD had just been released and was apparently doing quite well, and the company appeared to have great enthusiasm for the potential of its Godzilla properties. I think that enthusiasm is what compelled them to get behind our documentary, even though it was far more expensive than anything we`d done up to that point. One thing that should be pointed out is that Classic Media is a children`s entertainment company. The Godzilla DVD line was a new direction for them; I really don`t think they had any prior experience releasing anything akin to classic movie titles for a non-children`s market. Some people in the fan forums have pissed and moaned about the way Classic Media`s DVDs have turned out, and some of that is justified, but remember that Toho didn`t license these titles to the Criterion Collection, they licensed them to a children`s DVD company. So, the fact that Classic Media got behind our documentary showed that, at that time anyway, they were serious about making their Godzilla line a success. Ultimately, the company changed hands, apparently plans changed, and our documentary was not part of the boxed set after all. At this point I`m just happy that it`s been released and people will hopefully enjoy it.

    Even though we had worked on a number of special features, I`m sure Classic Media knew that Ed and I are not filmmakers. So in addition to the basic idea, I`m sure their confidence in us was based on the people that came aboard, and their credentials. Ed and I had known Norman England for a long time, as a friend and a colleague. I thought THE iDol was a great little film—a really clever idea (it`s kind of like a TWILIGHT ZONE episode about Japanese idol girls and fanboys) executed perfectly. For all of Norman`s biting wit and sarcasm, he made a film that had a lot of heart! I was really impressed by it, and when he came onboard our project I was very excited—not just because he`s a friend, but because he`d proven that he could make a quality film on a tiny budget. Also, because Norman had covered the making of so many Japanese SFX films for Fangoria and whatnot, he is well known among the SFX crew members. They like him and respect him, and that trust factor went a long way to making our interviewees feel at ease, which translated to better interviews and a better film. ED: As we found out later, the budget which we proposed was extremely low by documentary film standards, but it also had to be low enough to make economic sense for Classic Media to give their approval. We originally had hoped to film early in 2007, but due to Classic Media undergoing a change in ownership right at the same time that the film was about to be approved, we were set back several months. There was a period where we feared that the new owners would just decide this was something that they didn`t want to do, but eventually we got the green light. And then the pressure was on. Q: How was the project presented to Toho? What was their reaction to the whole thing?

    ED: We only dealt with Classic Media. They handled all the dealings with Toho directly. But Classic Media was already one of their licensees, and Toho was familiar with the work we had done for both BFI and Classic Media, so they were very receptive to the whole idea. Of course they insisted on having the right to review everything and they indicated that there would be no freebies at all as far as rights fees for photos, footage, etc. But contrary to the popular notion that Toho is obstructionist, hates Western fans, that you can`t work with them—well, you can work with them. Sure, it wasn`t always easy and we had our share of frustrations, but they welcomed the idea of an original documentary, and as you can see, it did happen. Q: Fans would probably be very interested to hear a bit on what it was like getting approval from Toho on a character that they protect as much as Disney protects Mickey Mouse. What was easy, what was a headache? ED: Well, again it wasn`t a problem to get approval. Classic Media already was licensing their character, so the door was wide open in that sense. As long as you abide by their rules and let them review everything, they were OK. Their ground rules did prevent us from doing things which we believe would have made the film much better, so we weren`t spared some headaches. Most of that had to do with images and how they were used. But in terms of editorial content and the story we wanted to tell, they had no objections to anything we wanted to do. STEVE: Toho was only concerned about the way Godzilla`s image was used. Specifically, they objected to the way we manipulated a few images or pieces of footage with Photoshop and AfterEffects in earlier cuts of the film. For instance, during the cold opening, where you see the images of the Diet and other buildings and it fades into footage of Godzilla smashing the miniature version, our editor had originally juxtaposed the modern-day footage against the Toho footage within the same frame, but we were told we couldn`t do that, so we ended up with the final version, which uses fades to make the transition. There were a few other things we had to change. One of them was an animated sequence created by our editor, in which Godzilla was standing on a sound stage surrounded by miniature buildings, and the narrator says something like, "Godzilla would seem powerless if there were nothing to destroy," and all those miniature buildings disappear from the sound stage, leaving Godzilla all alone—poof! It was a great effect and it drove home the point visually. But rules are rules and we had to abide by them, so out it came. Toho never tried to alter the content of the story. There are a couple of places in the film where an interviewee says something that is somewhat unflattering about Toho, but they never objected. Q: The documentary features some great interviews. How did you guys go about the selection process of who to get in touch with?

    ED: We initially came up with a long list of interview candidates. You can`t depend on everyone to agree to appear, and even if they all would say yes, everyone may not be available for filming. Thinking of the structure of the film, we had several different categories of interview subjects. Although our film was to be about special effects, we included several actors in the list. There were several reasons for that. First of all, actors make a living with their appearance and they are generally good at verbalizing ideas and telling stories. They are used to being on camera and entertaining an audience. They would be a good counterbalance to all the technical people we would be talking with, who are not so well accustomed to being on camera or telling stories. Also, the actor interviews were a kind of selling point to make the whole project more attractive to Classic Media. Not all of what they would talk about would be on topic for our film, so portions of their interviews might be usable as stand-alone interviews which could be additional value-added beyond the documentary. To keep the shooting schedule manageable, we settled on four actors from our pool of candidates. One of our top choices was The Peanuts, but unfortunately we found out that since their retirement, they protect their privacy and have turned down all requests for interviews and appearances.

    From the special effects world, Yasuyuki Inoue and some of his assistants topped our list. It was our intent to use this film as an opportunity to give people such as these some long overdue credit, and in addition, they had a vast amount of never-before-seen original production art, scale models, and so on which would benefit the film visually. The other key figure was Akira Tsuburaya. Since the story of Eiji Tsuburaya was important to our concept, having someone who could speak with authority on the subject was vital to us. Although we had many names on our original candidate list, there were too many for us to practically work into a 5-day schedule (and we were also limited in terms of screen time). We wound up prioritizing the remaining list, setting a limit on the total number of people, and worked our way down the list. As it turned out, everyone we asked agreed to participate. STEVE: We wanted a cross-section of people from the old days and recent days. That’s why we have the original Godzilla suit actor, Haruo Nakajima, and the most recent one, Tom Kitagawa; the star of the original GOJIRA, Akira Takarada, and a popular actor from the recent films, Shiro Sano; an SFX director from the original cycle of films, Teruyoshi Nakano, and a young director who represents the future of the genre, Takeshi Yagi.

    We also have the sons of both Eiji Tsuburaya and Ishiro Honda in the film, and that was a happy accident. We were shooting Akira Tsuburaya`s interview at his company, Tsuburaya Dream Factory, and while we were filming a very familiar-looking gentleman walked in and sat down at his desk. During a break in the shooting, Akira turned and said, "That`s Honda`s son!" The resemblance between Ryuji Honda and his dad is a bit uncanny. Of course we asked him right then and there if he`d appear in the film. Q: How did you get Alex Cox to narrate the documentary? STEVE: We wanted a "name" narrator, and our first choice was a well known actor with a great and very recognizable voice and direct ties to the Godzilla series, who shall remain nameless. We negotiated with his old-school, Broadway Danny Rose-style Hollywood agent, who kept trying to impress me by talking up all these Borscht-Belt comics and ex-pro wrestlers he represented. He was a real trip. However, the actor wanted a lot more money than we could offer. Next we auditioned a few people, from unknown actor friends to fairly well knowns, but for various reasons none of them worked out. It was my wife who suggested Alex Cox, and I said, "Why didn`t I think of that?" He`d tried to direct a Godzilla movie of his own, he`d written Godzilla comic books, and he`d appeared in the BBC docu. I emailed him, and shortly thereafter he was in L.A. for a screening of his latest film, SEARCHERS 2.0, so I met him in person and we shook on it. He was so easy to deal with, supportive, enthusiastic, and he did a fantastic job. And he was willing to work for the meager amount we could offer. A great guy and a very creative and idiosyncratic filmmaker.

    Q: For me, there are two great highlights in the film. One is having the three generations of Godzilla actors, Haruo Nakajima, Ken Satsuma, and Tsutomu Kitagawa, each doing their version side by side and each talking about "their" Godzilla. The other was the special effects demonstration. What was it like to be there with those guys and also to witness an old school Tokusatsu trick by Mr. Inoue? ED: They were both great experiences, but totally different. Getting all three Godzilla actors together gave us a unique opportunity to do something special. For one thing, these three generations of Godzilla had never been together at the same time. Norman had scouted the area around Monsters Inc., Shinichi Wakasa`s company, where everyone met that day, and he felt that the riverside walkway would be an ideal location for the G-men (as we called them) to stage a demonstration. The setting was perfect. It also presented us with a great chance to get some action and practical demonstrations mixed into the film, to break up the long procession of sit down interviews. It was interesting to watch the three of them do their walks side by side, as it showed just how different each man`s interpretation of the character was. But more than that, it was plain fun! Each day of shooting had a different flavor, but there`s no doubt that everyone had the most fun on that day. Special thanks goes to Shinichi Wakasa for opening his shop to us that entire day.

    STEVE: Those two days were the highlights of the shoot, and they made the two highlights of the film, as well. The Godzilla suit actors seemed to sense they were taking part in a historic moment, the first time all three convened for a summit. They are three very different guys, all with strong personalities, and even though Nakajima is clearly the elder statesman and commands a certain respect, there was a great deal of mutual admiration and camaraderie among them. One of my favorite moments in the movie is our riff on THE RIGHT STUFF, with all three suit actors waking side by side, in slow motion. All three men gave great interviews and it was really difficult to pare this section down to a manageable length because of so much good material. Nakajima is the old warrior, Satsuma is the bulldog Godzilla, and Kitagawa is sort of the postmodern Godzilla—he plays the role with a certain amount of self-awareness and irony; he takes his job seriously, but he doesn`t take himself too seriously. These guys are so funny and so animated, and their segment gives the film a jolt of energy and humor. It`s the peak in the middle of the story.

    As for Inoue`s demonstration of the cloud tank effect, that`s as close as I`ll ever get to watching Tsuburaya work, so I was grateful to be able to witness it. Norman and our cameraman, Hiroo Takaoka, and crew did a great job of filming both the effect itself and the activity in the workshop, with Inoue directing the preparations and the shoot. It was a tricky task because they had to get up close enough to get that you-are-there feeling, yet they had to stay out of Inoue`s way and let the effects crew do their jobs. The vibe on location that day was something special. Mr. Inoue and his three assistants, Mr. Takagi, Mr. Aoki, and Mr. Shirasaki, essentially came out of retirement to create this effects sequence for our cameras, so there was a bit of melancholy in the air, as well as a feeling of reverence and awe for what was happening. It was almost like an elegy for a time that doesn`t exist anymore. ED: The special effects demonstration was unforgettable. Mr. Inoue and his colleagues came up with the idea of staging the demonstration for us, and they went all out to make it happen, preparing for weeks in advance. Mr. Inoue even got Fuchimu Shimakura, the backdrop painter who did the classic backdrop paintings during Toho`s Golden Age (such as Mt. Fuji from DESTROY ALL MONSTERS) to paint a custom sky backdrop for the demo. It was amazing. Watching Mr. Inoue and all the different generations of special effects artists working together, putting such energy into what they were doing, you literally could feel the creative spirit flowing in the room. I know it sounds corny, but I truly felt their energy and I did feel like I had walked back in time 39 years to when they were making LATITUDE ZERO. It was a pretty emotional moment, and it made me feel privileged to have witnessed it. We are deeply indebted to Mr. Inoue and the SFX staff for going through so much time, effort, and expense to pull this off for us.

    Q: Animal Planet aired a documentary special on Godzilla (ANIMAL ICONS: IT CAME FROM JAPAN) a couple years ago that was highly regarded. Comparisons will no doubt be made but are they fair and what separates this new film from that? ED: The Animal Planet documentary was fine for what it was, which was just one of a series of similar films that they did, all cut from the same mold. Find a topic, get a bunch of stills and clips, and line up a couple people they can use to tell their story for them. Godzilla just happened to be the subject of the moment. It was a basic surface history of the subject, and they stuck strictly to what resources were available to them within the US.

    In contrast, we made a conscious effort to produce something which hasn`t been done before, either here or in Japan. And I think the fact that almost everyone involved in the production on both sides of the camera had a passion for the subject gives it something special that other projects don`t. We tried not to stick to the surface but instead to go inside these films and illustrate what makes them unique, both culturally and artistically. And as much as possible, it was our desire to make it appeal not only to fans but to a general audience as well. STEVE: The Animal Planet documentary included a ton of film clips (none of which, as I understand it, the producers actually paid for—it would have cost a fortune), included a handful of interviews with people who were either marginally connected to the Godzilla series, or not at all (including myself), and was little more than a generic overview of the Godzilla series. We paid for all our clips, shot on location in Japan, interviewed nearly 20 people closely involved with the genre, and took the viewer inside the world of Japanese special effects. I saw a review on complaining that we didn`t focus enough on the Heisei films. That`s missing the point entirely. We don`t focus on any one particular film or group of films. Sure, we would have liked to have footage from some of the later movies, but BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE is not intended to be a complete history of the genre.

    Q: What should fans think about the most when they view the documentary? Obviously, something this special doesn`t come along too often. STEVE: In the film, Shusuke Kaneko says, "It`s more enjoyable to watch these films when you understand their long history and culture." Personally, that`s what I hope people will take away from it—a greater understanding and appreciation for the artists who make these movies, and for their work. It has always irked me when someone looks at one of these movies and has the classic, knee-jerk response: "It`s just a guy in a suit!" Well, so what? Does your brain automatically shut down and make it impossible for you to enjoy the film? So I hope people out there who are not necessarily sold on Japanese SFX films might watch this and begin to see them in a new light. Also, I hope people will empathize with these artists, who carry on a tradition rooted in the past and are faced with an uncertain future. After our recent premiere at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, my friend Richard Pusateri commented that our film shows the human side of Japanese special effects, and I was very happy to hear that.

    And our real hope is that this film reaches an audience beyond the die-hard Godzilla fan base, but we realize that`s going to be very difficult because it`s being released on DVD as a supplemental feature, with no fanfare. Looking at the packaging for the RODAN/WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS discs, you can see that it contains a documentary but there`s no description of it, no clue as to what it`s all about. So our little film will rely on word-of-mouth in order to reach its audience. You`re right, something like this doesn`t happen often, and we were honored and privileged to be able to work on this film. Classic Media deserves credit for putting up the money, working out all the arrangements with Toho, and seeing the project through to the end. ED: Our hope is that for anyone, fans or not, that they gain some respect for these techniques and the people behind them. To recognize their creativity and efforts which often went beyond the call of duty, and dispel the condescending attitude that these are cheap and shoddily made films. These people achieved something special under remarkable constraints of time and budget. We want the audience to understand some of the history and culture underlying these techniques which give them their unique flavor. And lastly, we hope that when people think of Japanese special effects, that the names of Yasuyuki Inoue and his staff will come to mind just as easily as the name Eiji Tsuburaya. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ For more information on BRINGING GODZILLA DOWN TO SIZE and Classic Media`s RODAN/WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS DVD set please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan:

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